Comeback an inspiration
Karen Khachanov, who toppled Djokovic in straight sets to lift a maiden Masters 1000 title, used his champion’s speech to pay tribute to his opponent in Bercy.
"You are such an inspiration to a lot of players and you are truly a champion of our sport, said the Russian. I was proud to share the court with you today. Congrats to you and to your team, you did an amazing job.”
Peak arrived ahead of schedule
Djokovic’s long-term coach Marian Vajda and fitness specialist Gebhard Gritsch returned to his set-up after a year break in May, which clearly sparked a “new beginning for me.”
Their first event reunited was the Monte Carlo Masters, where the 14-time Grand Slam champion won two matches before defeat by Roland-Garros finalist Dominic Thiem.
“I had to accept the fact that I'm in the process and that takes time to build. And it takes time to really find the proper rhythm in the game. I had to compensate my serve, and my whole game just needed some reinventing I would say,” admitted a jubilant Djokovic, who is surprised by his sustained success in recent months.
“We put a lot of hours on the practice court and it paid off. We set up a plan and the peak was supposed to arrive around US Open time, and it arrived before. I'm satisfied of course to be No. 1. What more can I ask for? I won 20-plus (22) matches in a row and had a most amazing last five months of the year.”
Back to the peak, overlooking the chasing pack, Djokovic now heads to London for the ATP World Tour Finals.
The newly crowned world No.1 will have Nadal, Federer and co poised to pounce, but Djokovic has lifted the trophy four times at the O2 Arena.
Perhaps his rivals are off for a quick hike in the mountains…